Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tucker Turns Ten - a Retrospective

My tiny Tucker turns 10 today!!
Quite a big milestone in a dog's life. 

Tucker is my third Sheltie, my second sable male and my second sheltie from Dierenvriend's Kennel where his big brother Gryffon came from too. He was one of a litter of only two male puppies; the first litter for Dienrenvriend Bonnie Wee Mattie. Tucker's sire was Can Ch Fairfax As Good as It Gets.  Tucker's registered name is Dierenvriend's Mattie's Tucker.  Not my choice for the name although the breeder did use the call name I had chosen.
Mattie and her two boys.
Don't ask me which puppy is Tucker in the photo with his Mom, I don't know.  I used to visit the breeder's during my lunch hour. I almost gave up Tucker for his brother. My Gryffon was not the most social of dogs and I wondered how he would react with a new puppy. I had picked the smaller of the two puppies but then during one lunch time visit decided that I should take the larger puppy who was more outgoing. By the time I got back to work, I was feeling like I had abandoned Tucker and called the breeder to say I had changed my mind and would keep the smaller puppy. 
Tucker - Christmas 2000

I got to take Tucker home just as I was starting Christmas holidays so I picked him up from the breeder on my way home to my parent's in Moncton.  I think he started off being really well socialized that way, something that I didn't ensure for poor Gryffon, who was very shy with people and aggressive with other dogs. 

Tucker discovers the Christmas Tree

But Gryffon turned out to be a great big brother. Tucker could crawl all over him and even fall asleep on him.  Gryffon, in fact, seemed always to be very interested in whatever Tucker was doing.  They played tug of war and jousted with their heads, mouths snapping at each other. The only thing Gryffon didn't share was his tennis ball, poor Tucker never got to get the ball, Gryffon was such a ball hog. That's why to this day I say all Tucker learned to be is a cheerleader since when we were playing ball all Tucker got to do was run back and forth, barking.  
Gryffon watching Tucker intently.

Tucker - gangly boy!

Camping with Gryffon, Bogart and my niece and nephew Jessica and Daniel
My favourite picture of Gryffon and Tucker.

Tucker and I lost his big brother, Gryffon on 23 August 2002 from complications following exploratory surgery which found that he had an abdominal wall infection. Gryffon was only 7 and half years old. So far sooner than I expected, Tucker became an "only" dog.

Tucker and Ceilidh - Summer 2003
 In March of 2003, Tucker got a little sister, Kelbren "Ceilidh"  Everlasting.  That summer we moved from New Maryland, New Brunswick to Angus, Ontario.  I started obedience classes at Barrie Canine Connection with Ceilidh and, since they also gave agility classes, decided to put Tucker into agility. I had heard about agility but had never had the opportunity to take classes anywhere. We got hooked. Tucker proved to be a good agility dog, he wasn't too fast but he was a thinker.  Initially,  I didn't think that he would be all that succesful even though we got a qualifying score in Jumpers at our very first trial and he got his Agility Dog of Canada title in less than a year. Once we were out of Starters, Tucker had difficulty making the course times but as soon as he moved to Veterans, then we started to progress. 

Tucker's first trial at Dream Fields which was before we even moved to Ottawa.
The summer of 2006, saw another move for Tucker, Ceilidh and I from Angus, Ontario to our Nation's capital Ottawa.  By now both Ceilidh and Tucker were competing in agility and we quickly discovered the active Ottawa-Kingston agility community.  The next summer, we entered the Ontario Regional Championship for the first time. Tucker did very well and qualified for Nationals.  Tucker competed at Nationals in 2007 at Halton Hills, Ont, in 2008 in Sussex, NB and in 2009 in Ottawa, Ont.  At Nationals in 2008, he placed he placed 8th in one of Gamblers events. It was the first time he completed a National or Regional main gamble. He would have placed 10th overall in his height class except that in the other Gamble event, I got greedy for points and tried to put him over a two point jump near the dog walk. Tucker took the dog walk instead and when the buzzer sounded, he was on the dog walk heading away from the main gamble. Tucker did do that main gamble but just not in the time allowed.  At Nationals in 2009, Tucker placed in every event in his height class and placed 7th over all for his height class, 6" Double-Drop Veterans.  
Tucker - 2009 AAC Agility Nationals - Ottawa, On
Tucker also completed all the title requirements for the Agility Trial Champion of Canada title, the Bronze Award of Merit and his Bronze Versatility Award during his agility career.  Not too bad for a dog that I initially thought would have difficulty getting his Agility Dog of Canada title.  So to use all of the letters for his titles after his registered name, he is:

Dierenvriend's Mattie's Tucker, SADC, VGDC, VAADC, VAGDC, VMADC, VMJDC, VMGDC, VMSDC, VMTRDC, VATChC, ExJ Bronze, ExSt Bronze, ExTR Bronze, Bronze Versatility, Bronze Award of Merit.

At Nationals in 2009, Tucker nearly slid off the A-frame in the rain and was having difficulty meeting the course times. After Nationals, he refused to do A-frames and he continued to have difficulty meeting the course times. I made the decision that it was in his best interest to retire him from competitve agility; he still likes to play for fun when there are treats in the ring and no A-frames.

Tucker and Ceilidh got a new little brother during the Labour Day weekend of 2009, Triadic's Glenciaran Beckett.  Tucker accepted him pretty easily but Ceilidh was not too impressed.

Tucker and Beckett - Summer 2010

Sadly this past May, Tucker, Beckett and I lost our Ceilidh girl to Mast Cell Cancer. Beckett wasn't really affected by the loss but I think Tucker missed her; I know I sure did, still do.

Last Moments Together - Ceilidh and Tucker

Recently as a result of having pre-op blood work done for dental work, we have found that Tucker has what is suspected to be chronic pancreatitis. He is currently on medications and dietary supplements which seem to be working but we won't know for sure until additional blood work is done once we have completed the course of medications. He does, however, seem to be somewhat more energetic already so I hope the medications are effective and will clear up the pancreatitis.
Devil Prince
Tucker has been a great dog and companion, laid back he always takes everything in stride. I wish he had another ten years with me but I know how unlikely that would be.  Today, we are going to enjoy the day together and then, this evening,we'll be giving out treats to the Trick or Treaters. The little kids always wish him Happy Birthday when I tell them Halloween is Tucker's birthday. I'm going to make him some low-fat pumpkin oatmeal muffins for his birthday cake. There's no doubt that my food hound will enjoy that. 

Happy Birthday Tucker Boo!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tucker's Travels

Tucker at Halloween 2008
In April, I had blood work done on Tucker so that we could have dental work done. We found out that his cholesterol and triglycerides were elevated. After testing for Cushings and hyperthyroidism, he was put on a low fat diet which my vets hoped would lower his cholesterol.

Last week, I had his blood retested and his cholesterol and triglycerides were still elevated so my vet did additional tests to see how his pancreas and liver were doing. Those results came back through the roof.  Worried that it was acute pancreatitis, my vet referred me to Alta Vista Animal Hospital's Internal Medicine section for an ultrasound.  Dr Rozen told me that often there was an underlying cause such as liver failure or cancer but even pancreatitis left untreated could be life threatening. They advised me to get into Alta Vista as soon as possible; that was last Thursday, 21 Oct.  I called Alta Vista right away but the vet that I had been recommended to see had no openings until Tuesday; not wanting to wait, I asked if there were any earlier appointments with any other vets in that department.  I was able to get in on Friday with the same vet who treated Ceilidh, Dr Bravo.

My appointment on Friday was for 11:00 am, Dr Bravo was so apologetic when she saw me.  I left Tucker there for his ultrasound, not knowing what kind of results I would get.  I worried all day that it would be the worst, which for me would have been to hear that he had cancer.  At about 3:30 in the afternoon I got the call from Alta Vista asking if I could come back in for 4:45pm and that Dr Bravo would see me. That got me even more worried as my experience has been if its good news the vet tech will tell you when they call. 

I was ready for the worst, but when Dr Bravo came into the office she said it was good new of sorts. I relaxed a little bit and began to breathe.  Tucker's ultrasound was normal and so with no other symptoms other than being lethargic and the blood work results, her diagnosis was chronic pancreatitis. She gave us some medication that he is to take for 30 days, put him on a couple dietary supplements which he can take long term and also Peptid AC.  She also recommended a low fat hypoallergenic diet. Try finding that! I have a feeling that I will end up cooking for him. We are to repeat blood work for him now every six months. 

So we are now doing smaller meals twice a day rather than one big meal a day. I think both he and Beckett are enjoying that.  Tucker seems to be a little more energetic already but that could be the crisp fall weather. 

It was quite the scare to think about losing Tucker. I know the end is inevitable for all of us but I just didn't want to think about losing Tucker so soon after losing Ceilidh. He will be 10 years old at the end of the month and even though I know that means he is approaching the average life span for a Sheltie, I hope we have many more years together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have Ewe Herd

Have ewe heard, Beckett is a sheepdog!

Beckett had a really busy weekend. On Saturday we attended the Krazy Kanines Fall fun trial. We were very lucky to have nice weather for the long weekend. The field was still somewhat soggy though as a result of all the rain the previous week. Beckett and I ran the Starters Standard and then the Advanced Standard. He did really well and I was really happy with his contacts.  Beckett and I had to leave the fun trial to go to his agility class. I got back to the fun trial in time to let Tucker do a Jumpers run, after all the old guy still likes to play and the young guy can't have all the fun.

Sunday, my family had our Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's place but the dogs always get to join us. The sad part of Sunday was closing down the agility field that morning. As you never known in this part of Canada, we could have good weather now for weeks but we could also have snow by the end of the month.

But Monday was the day we were really waiting for, Beckett went for a Herding Instinct Test. It was a gorgeous fall day; a great day for a drive to Ewenique Farms in Alfred Ontario, which is about 55 kilometers from my place.  We got there in time to see about five other dogs being tested. It was amazing to see the change in behaviour when dogs realized that they could move the sheep. Then it was Beckett's turn; he was the last dog to be tested.  At first he didn't seem interested at all and then a little nervous when the Border Collie ran at the sheep.  But he was a brave boy and kept coming back to me, each time he spooked. It seemed to me that our test took longer than some of the other dogs, maybe because we were the last dog but then maybe it just seemed long because I was in the pen just hoping that Beckett would show some interest in herding the sheep. Natalie, the tester, twice pulled a sheep from the herd for Beckett to check out. The second time I gently made him get really close, afterwards he seemed to catch on that the sheep weren't going to bother him and then he realized that he could move the sheep around. Then you could see those instincts kick in as he ran back and forth behind the small herd of sheep. He really seemed to be enjoying it by the end and was confident enough to move away from me and go herd sheep.

Beckett passed the herding instinct test, so my little Beckett boy really is a sheepdog and not just a "sheepish" dog. Well, maybe just a little bit sheepish.

We had a lot of fun trying it out. I went to the test just wanting to see what he would do but you never know, maybe there are some herding lessons in Beckett's future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanksgiving with Family and Friends

This past weekend was Thanksgiving, well here in Canada anyway.  I like Thanksgiving as it is a nice time to just get together with family and friends before the Canadian winter hits. Thanksgiving is also a lot less hectic and stressful than Christmas. 

This year my sister Juanita hosted Thanksgiving Dinner at her place. My youngest sister Maureen and her husband, Fred came up from Kingston. My nephew's girlfriend's family,  the Jellett's joined us for dinner.  But also in attendance was my Uncle Mike who is moving back to Canada after being out of the country for 23 years.  The only sad thing was that Mike's wife Bon couldn't get her residents visa in time to be here for Thanksgiving but hopefully she'll be here for Christmas.

Mike and Juanita did most of the cooking but I brought two desserts: apple crisp and pumpkin spice cake.  We had a traditional turkey supper with mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, bean salad, green salad, rolls and, of course, stuffing. Can't have a turkey dinner without stuffing; it has to be the best part of the meal. In addition to my two desserts there was also pumpkin pie and cherry cheese cake. Needless to say that no one left the table hungry.

I think everyone enjoyed the evening although Mike was a little jet lagged since he had only arrived the night before from Thailand. Even the dogs had a good time, Katie surveying the world outdoors, Tucker hoping for some leftovers (they all got a few bites) and Beckett and Toby roughhousing together.
It would have been nice to have more of the family together but distance makes that very difficult.  But we certainly have many other things to be thankful for, our health, our homes, our family and friends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Family Adventures Continue

Yesterday (Saturday, 2 October 2010) I drove up to Kingston to attend a parade at the Royal Military College. A young cousin, my Dad's half sister Heather's oldest son Andrew, had been accepted this year at RMC.  The parade marked the end of the orientation period for first year cadets and their official entry to the cadet wing. 

In the video, you will see the second, third and fourth year cadets marching on to the parade square in their scarlet uniforms. The first year cadets, in their blue uniforms, are then marched on parade under command of an upper classman. After the presentation of a number of awards and prizes, the first year cadets received their RMC cap badges.  Following the badging, the first year cadets joined the cadet wing and paraded for the first time as cadets of the Royal Military College. The fly past at the end of the video actually happened during the parade but it seemed to fit in better at the end. The aircraft is a Corsair, also known as a Grey Ghost. The fly past was organized by some ex-cadets to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Navy.

Andrew's flight also won the obstacle course which had been held the day before. The obstacle course is a test of strength, endurance and teamwork and winning the competition is coveted by all the cadets.

My Aunt Heather, her husband Brian and their other two children Christa and Brendon were also on hand for the parade. They had come up to Kingston for the weekend to see Andrew compete in the obstacle course competition and participate in the parades on Saturday and Sunday.

After the parade, Heather and I went to downtown Kingston to meet up with my youngest sister, Maureen. We had a very enjoyable lunch at the Kingston Brewing Company. We didn't get to see much of Fred , Maureen's husband, as Chili Fest was on this past weekend and Fred was volunteering in the Kingston Brew Pub's booth. Chili Fest is a fund raiser for a local charity in Kingston.  

It's not often we get to see one another so even though Kingston is a couple hours away it was well worth the drive. And the weather cooperated even though it was a tad chilly but it sure beat all the rain we had over the past week.